Kick It Up a Notch Faculty

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Patrice Barton

Crystal Kite Award winning Patrice Barton is the illustrator of several picture and chapter books, including the award winning picture book MINE! (by Shutta Crum, Knopf, 2011), I Like Old Clothes (by Mary Ann Hoberman, Knopf, 2012), and the Junior Library Guild selection The Naming of Tishkin Silk (by Glenda Millard, FSG, 2009). Patrice makes her home in Austin, Texas. You can learn more about her at 

Shutta Crum

Shutta Crum is the author of numerous picture books and two novels. THUNDER-BOOMER! was named an ALA and Smithsonian Mag. “Notable Book.” Shutta’s latest book MINE! was illustrated by the talented Patrice Barton. The NY Times says of it: “. . . a delightful example of the drama and emotion that a nearly wordless book can convey.” In 2005, Shutta was asked to read at the White House, and in 2010 she was invited to tour American military base schools across Japan. For more:

John M. Cusick

John M. Cusick is a literary agent with S©ott Treimel NY and the author of GIRL PARTS (Candlewick Press, 2010), and the forthcoming CHERRY MONEY BABY. He has lectured for the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Writer’s Digest, the Texas Writer’s League, and Writing and Illustrating for Young Readers, Utah. His pieces on writing for teens have appeared in Writer’s Market, The New Inquiry, and on multiple online resources for writers. John is also a founder and managing editor of the 2012 Saboteur Award-winning literary magazine, Armchair/Shotgun. He lives in Brooklyn and is at work on his third novel.

Erzsi Deàk

Erzsi Deàk founded Hen&ink Literary Studio in 2011 as a traditional literary agency with the goal to work additionally across platforms and countries/borders — from traditional publishing to design to multimedia. Currently, Hen&ink represents authors and illustrators from around the world as well as publishers Thomas Jeunesse (France), Epigram Books (Singapore), and Red Fox Literary (US).

For those interested in submitting, Erzsi is looking for polished manuscripts with Voice that sings and Story that keeps you turning the pages, even when you lie in bed with the lights out. She adores intelligent humor and irony that slices through the dark and makes her snort or have to tell someone about it.

Immediately. (Please see about about lying in bed with the lights out and slicing through the dark). Her sweet spot is MG though she loves a good YA romance. Submission guidelines and a list of favorite titles “through the ages” at

Kathy Landwehr

Kathy Landwehr has worked at Peachtree Publishers since 1990, beginning in publicity and marketing and moving to editorial in 1995. In her time there, she has edited picture books (Planting the Wild Garden, The Boy Who Was Raised by Librarians),middle grade (We’ve Got a Job: The1963 Birmingham Children’s March, Hide and Seek), and young adult (This Girl Is Different, The Theory of Everything). She was named Associate Publisher in 2007. A graduate of Emory University, she was previously employed by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Susan Hunter Publishing.

Cynthia Leitich Smith

Cynthia Leitich Smith is the New York Times and Publishers Weekly best-selling author of TANTALIZE, ETERNAL, BLESSED, DIABOLICAL and TANTALIZE: KIEREN’S STORY (Candlewick). Her award-winning books for younger children include JINGLE DANCER, INDIAN SHOES, RAIN IS NOT MY INDIAN NAME–for which she was named a Writer of the Year by Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers–(all HarperCollins) and HOLLER LOUDLY (Dutton). She looks forward to the 2013 release of ETERNAL: ZACHARY’S STORY and FERAL NIGHTS (Book One in the FERAL series)(Candlewick). Cynthia’s books also have been published in the U.K., Australia and New Zealand, France, Poland, and Turkey. Her website at was named one of the top 10 Writer Sites on the Internet by Writer’s Digest and an ALA Great Website for Kids. Her Cynsations blog at was listed as among the top two read by the children’s/YA publishing community in the SCBWI “To Market” column. A former member of the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA faculty in Writing for Children and Young Adults, Cynthia has lived in Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Michigan, and Illinois, and she now calls Austin, Texas home.

Cynthia Levinson

Cynthia Levinson has published nearly two-dozen nonfiction articles in the Cobblestone group of magazines on topics ranging from Anne Frank’s House to Zoonoses. She and her beloved editor, Kathy Landwehr at Peachtree Publishers, produced Cynthia’s debut middle-grade nonfiction book, WE’VE GOT A JOB: THE 1963 BIRMINGHAM CHILDREN’S MARCH (2012), which was a Junior Library Guild Selection and a Parent’s Choice gold medal winner and received four starred reviews.

Earl Bradley (E.B.) Lewis

Earl Bradley (E.B.) Lewis was born on December 16, 1956, in Philadelphia, PA. E.B. Lewis has illustrated more than fifty books for children, including Nikki Grimes’ Talkin’ About Bessie: The Story of Aviator Elizabeth Coleman, the 2003 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award Winner; Alice Schertle’s Down the Road, an ALA Notable Book; Tolowa M. Mollel’s My Rows and Piles of Coins, an ALA Notable Book and a Coretta Scott King Honor Book; Bat Boy and His Violin by Garvin Curtis a Coretta Scott King Honor Book, and Jacqueline Woodson’s The Other Side, a 2002 Notable Book for the Language Arts.

Rubin Pfeffer

Rubin Pfeffer launched his career as a designer for Macmillan Publishing Company in 1974. Following that, Rubin joined Harcourt Brace Jovanovich serving for more than twenty seven years (1974-2001) with responsibilities spanning from entry level designer to President of the Trade division. Working with world renowned writers and artists, he oversaw a 92% growth of revenues with operating profit quadrupling. During his tenure, the company achieved Newbery and Caldecott distinctions in Children’s Books, National book awards in Children’s and Adult Books, and three authors published by the house were honored as Nobel Laureates in Literature. Rubin also coordinated cross-divisional product-development campaigns with HBJ School, including the design and inclusion of prominent children’s authors and illustrators into the Treasury of Literature. This series raised the bar on design and content selection and became the # 1 selling reading textbook program of the 1990s. In 2001, Rubin joined Pearson, Inc., as SVP and Chief Creative Officer of the Pearson Education companies. Here he coordinated cross-company product development leveraging Pearson and Penguin/Dorling Kindersley content for print and online products. As well, he directed the design of major textbook programs for the K-12 companies (Scott Foresman and Prentice Hall) and college imprints. Most recently, Rubin served as SVP and Publisher for Simon & Schuster Children’s Books. Imprints reporting to Rubin included S&S Books for Young Readers, Atheneum, McElderry Books, Aladdin, and Paula Wiseman Book. During his tenure, his imprints achieved prestigious industry awards including the Newbery Medal and Honor and the Caldecott Honor as well as a dramatic rise in the number of NY Times bestsellers. In 2008, he launched Beach Lane Books, a commercial children’s picture book imprint. It’s first list included a Caldecott Honor and a NY Times bestseller.

Rubin joined the East West Literary Agency in December, 2009, as a partner and established the Boston base of the agency. He works with such luminary talents as Patricia MacLachlan, Marion Dane Bauer, Judy Sierra, David Diaz, Richard Jesse Watson, Jeff Mack, Susan Cooper, and a host of other published and new talents.

Pfeffer served as a judge for NAPPA’s (National Parenting Publications Awards) annual round up of best children’s books published in 2009 and 2010. He has been a consultant for Ruckus Media Group and speaks regularly on a range of industry topics to national and regional conferences of the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators).

Neal Porter

Neal Porter is the founder of Neal Porter books an imprint of Roaring Brook Press, which is itself a division of the Macmillan publishing group.After a brief stint in the college textbook department of St. Martin’s Press he moved into trade publishing, in 1977, where he held marketing positions at Avon Books, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Atheneum and Scribners. In 1985 he became Editorial Director of Aladdin Books at Macmillan and in 1987 he moved to London to become Joint Managing Director of Walker Books in London. He returned to the United States in 1989 as Vice President and Publisher of Macmillan Children’s Books and subsequently held executive positions at Orchard Books and Dorling Kindersley. In 2000 he decided to step away from administration and focus exclusively on editing books. That year he helped to found Roaring Brook Press, where he is currently Editorial Director of Neal Porter Books, and a leading voice in children’s publishing.

Liz Garton Scanlon

Children’s writer and poet Liz Garton Scanlon is the author of the highly-acclaimed, Caldecott-honored picture book All the World, illustrated by Marla Frazee, as well as Think Big, illustrated by Vanessa Newton, Noodle & Lou, illustrated by Arthur Howard, and A Sock is a Pocket for Your Toes, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser. Future books include Happy Birthday, Bunny, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin, due next year, and The Good-Pie Party, illustrated by Katy McDonald Denton, due in 2014. Ms. Scanlon is assistant professor of creative writing at Austin Community College and is a frequent & popular presenter at schools, libraries and conferences. To learn more, visit her web site at 

Tamra Tuller

Tamra Tuller was born and raised on the Jersey shore. It was on those beaches where she read book after book, developing her love of literature which would eventually lead her to a career in publishing (with a few detours along the way).

After working for several years in education as an English as a Second Language instructor at Rutgers University, Tamra first got her publishing feet wet in the Scholastic Book Clubs. She then moved on to Scholastic’s trade division at Blue Sky Press, before going to work at Philomel Books, an imprint of the Penguin Young Readers Group. Tamra is currently an editor at Chronicle Books. She is interested primarily in modern, literary middle grade and young adult fiction as well as story-based picture books. She has worked with such authors as Ruta Sepetys, Kathryn Erskine, Renata Liwska, Beth Kephart, and Floyd Cooper.

Tamra lives in San Francisco, California, with her gigantic cat named Spartacus. As a wanna-be foodie, she loves cooking, baking, drinking wine, and dining at restaurants she can’t afford.